CaGBC’s sustainable lens on Ottawa’s Centre Block rehabilitation

Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) shared more details on the Centre Block, renovation in Ottawa, Ont. The update drives home the immense effort underway to restore and modernize Canada’s most iconic building, Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) said in a press release.

The 10-year project sets out to preserve Centre Block’s historical and architectural heritage while ensuring the structure and the new Welcome Centre meets the needs of Canadians for generations. This includes embracing green building practices through their intention to pursue Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and Zero Carbon Building Standard (ZCB Standard) certification.

Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) shows a sustainable lens on Canada’s House, Centre Block, in Ottawa, Ont. Image courtesy PSPC

Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) shows a sustainable lens on Canada’s House, Centre Block, in Ottawa, Ont.
Image courtesy PSPC

“The Centre Block project’s impressive approach to sustainability and heritage preservation reflects a growing shift in building practices,” said Thomas Mueller, CaGBC president. “Addressing environmental sustainability and carbon is the new normal for public buildings, especially retrofits. By prioritizing green building practices in their approach to the Centre Block, PSPC is making a significant investment in Canada’s future.”

At more than 100 years old, the Centre Block had seen only minor repairs. It was largely inefficient, with single pane windows, limited insulation, and inept mechanical systems. Major repairs were required to bring the building to modern safety, environmental, and accessibility standards, and to make it functional for parliamentarians and visitors. As an older heritage building, the project is complex, balancing a respect for the building’s past with a vision for its future.

The Centre Block rehabilitation will address sustainability, energy efficiency, climate resilience, and accessibility. Innovative new approaches were explored to select and source sustainable materials and improve the building envelope. Designed to minimize impact to the building’s stone façade, the envelop improvements include new windows and the addition of insulation to reduce air infiltration for better energy efficiency and occupant comfort.

The building’s new mechanical systems will also improve efficiency by capturing and repurposing waste heat, while potable water demand will be reduced using rainwater and greywater for non-potable uses, like toilets or landscaping needs. When completed, PSPC estimates the renovations will see energy consumption reduced by at least 75 per cent, and water consumption by more than 50 per cent.

The Centre Block has the distinction of being one of the largest, most complex heritage rehabilitation projects ever seen in Canada, and could be one of the largest in the world. What is clear from the rebirth of this 100-year old landmark is environmentally sustainable, green retrofits are possible for any building, CaGBC said.

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